BY: Jeff Schneberk @Game7overtime
IRVING, TX-I don’t know if the Sunday night time slot for NFL football is deliberately set up so that the biggest (most popular teams in the league) will get that prime time air time (basically for any team not named the Bucs, or the Jaguars or the Bills, Dolphins, Browns, etc) but when I took a look at the 2013 NFL schedule yesterday, this weekend’s game should be another dandy.
The New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.
The New York Giants would be the favourites of course, based on a lot of things, but not so much in this game, apparently.
The Dallas Cowboys will have at least one thing in their favour that day as they take on the New York Giants. History.
History, and fate, have not been kind to the NY Giants in this situation.
While Giants may have won the Super Bowl as recently as 2012, the Cowboys have dominated them in season openers. The two rivals have faced each other on six occasions in Week 1.
The Cowboys, making the veins in Tom Coughlin’s forehead swell, are sitting at a perfect 6-for-6.
There have been signs in pre-season that Dallas has a very real chance to making that a lucky seven. Even the odds-makers were on side, making it three-point favourites when this week dawned.
New York has had issues with its offensive line. Quarterback Eli Manning took the fewest sacks in the NFL last season but he may not have the same luxury in 2013.
As the Cowboys get ready for the 2013 season opener against the New York Giants on Sunday at AT&T Stadium, this is what they carry as a memory as they attempt to break a three-year playoff drought and a two-year run of 8-8 finishes:
Dez Bryant could not stand without help because of back spasms. He needed help to the shower and get dressed. He sat in a first-class seat normally reserved for the coaches on the flight home. Tony Romo could not carry his bag because of what he thought was a broken rib. DeMarcus Ware had a hard time putting his shirt on because of a shoulder injury that would need reconstructive surgery and an elbow injury. Alex Albright nearly collapsed at his locker, his body locking up because of the pain. Dwayne Harris left on crutches. Cole Beasley was in a protective boot. Miles Austin suffered a sprained ankle and limped to the team bus.
“That feeling we had that last game last year, I can feel it in the locker room that there’s a lot of guys that don’t want that feeling anymore,” second-year cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “I feel like our leadership definitely changed since last year. Guys are really stepping up, being vocal and also doing it on the practice field.”
Hope abounds inside the Cowboys’ locker room now the way it does across the NFL. Claiborne said he feels “something special about this team.” Romo has made similar claims. So has Ware. Even the players new to the team feel it.
The Cowboys started preparing for the New York Giants while they were in Oxnard, Calif. They have looked at them more since they returned home. But today starts the three most important days of preparation.
“We’re not the only team working hard,” running back DeMarco Murray said. “We’re not the only team coming in Mondays full pads. We’re not the only team doing that. We’ve got to separate ourselves come Sunday about execution and about finishing and those two things are what are going to get us over the hump.”
As Dec. 30, 2012, nearly turned into New Year’s Eve, the Cowboys’ locker room was more quiet than normal. For the second straight year they lost a winner-take-the-NFC-East-title game, dropping a 28-18 decision to the Washington Redskins.
Dez Bryant and the Cowboys were hurting physically and mentally following a playoff-killing loss at Washington last season.
The emotional pain was evident on the faces of players like Jason Witten, Brandon Carr and a lot of others. But it was the physical pain that sticks out the most a little more than eight months later.
Stay tuned for some US College football tomorrow night! Follow me on Twitter @Game7overtime